CONTENTIOUS CARTOONS: These episodes REALLY pushed envelope

The same-sex marriage of Arthurs teacher, Mr. Ratburn, has created a stir in Alabama.

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Alabama Bible thumpers are throwing a poisoned chalice at a gay cartoon rat who has found the love of his life.

The state’s Public Television network announced last week it will not run the episode of kid’s cartoon Arthur that features his teacher, Mr. Ratburn, getting married.

The episode, called Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone, aired May 13 but not in the heart of the Bible Belt.

Programming director Mike McKenzie told CNN the cartoon “would take away the choice of parents who feel it is inappropriate.”

It isn’t the first time a cartoon has fell afoul of censors and the humourless.

Here are some of the most outrageous cartoon episodes that have caused more trouble than a warehouse full of Acme products.

SOUTH PARK

WHEN: 2010

PROBLEM: Muhammad

411: In their long history of milking just about everything for jokes, it was only natural that creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone should tackle religion. In Islam, the Prophet Muhammad is not allowed to be shown. So instead, South Park featured the religious figure dressed in a bear suit.

Perhaps portraying the Prophet as a Teddy Bear was not such a good idea. SOUTH PARK STUDIOS

The following week, they came back with SuperBestFriends featuring the deities of all the world’s religions. Muhammad was covered up by a black bar that read: “CENSORED.”

BLOWBACK: An extremist website warned, “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid, and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh (a Dutch filmmaker murdered by fanatics) for airing this show.”

The South Park creators were threatened with death for their portrait of the Prophet Muhammad. SOUTH PARK STUDIOS

THE SIMPSONS

WHEN: 2002

PROBLEM: Brazil

411: Maybe the most controversial episode ever of the long-running cartoon, the Simpsons took a stick to Brazil and kept on hitting. Producers portrayed Rio de Janeiro as a rat and crime-infested hellhole.

BLOWBACK: The Brazilians weren’t happy. President Fernando Henrique Cardoso slammed the episode as “a distorted vision of Brazilian reality” and threatened to sue Fox.

Brazilians were not happy with the slew of stereotypes The Simpsons employed in Blame it on Lisa. FOX

FAMILY GUY

WHEN: 2005

PROBLEM: You have AIDS

411: Whoa. The episode shows Peter Griffin as a member of a barbershop quartet. To cheer up a hospitalized man dying of AIDS, the group breaks into song. “You have AIDS. Yes, you have AIDS. I hate to tell you, boy, you have AIDS, you got the AIDS. You may have caught it when you stuck that filthy needle in here. Or maybe all that unprotected sex which we hear. It isn’t clear, but what we’re certain of is that you have AIDS. Yes, you have AIDS. Not HIV, but full-blown AIDS.”

BLOWBACK: LGBT and AIDS organizations protested the episode. Loudly. Producers took a more considered view that the song was meant to be tasteless and that the disease itself was a terrible joke.

The You Have AIDS episode of Family Guy came under fire. FOX

SOUTH PARK

WHEN: 2005

PROBLEM: Trapped in the closet

The sexuality of Tom Cruise, Scientology and R. Kelly were all ribbed in Trapped in the Closet. SOUTH PARK STUDIOS

411:  This episode has it all. Stan is depressed and looking for a new religion. He finds Scientology. Noted Scientologist Tom Cruise is also portrayed as “trapped in the closet,” a subtle wink to long-standing rumours about the actor’s sexual preferences. Oh, and R. Kelly tries to serenade Cruise out. Rated the 17th-funniest TV episode of all time.

BLOWBACK: Tom Cruise threatened to quit Mission: Impossible. Isaac Hayes left his role on the show as Chef and all hell broke loose.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: South Park – Leering convicted rapist Bill Cosby serenades Taylor Swift with Baby It’s Cold Outside; Family Guy – Lois gets an abortion. We go no further; South Park – In With Apologies to Jesse Jackson, the show uses the N-word after Randy gets a question wrong on Wheel of Fortune. The correct answer was nagger.

Convicted rapist Bill Cosby offers Taylor Swift a cup of hot cocoa while serenading her. SOUTH PARK STUDIOS

bhunter@postmedia.com

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